CESSA Statewide Advisory Committee Approved Charter

Charter for the CESSA Statewide Advisory Committee

Approved by Members 07/11/2022


On August 25, 2021, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the Community Emergency Services and Support Act (CESSA) into law. This legislation, also called the Stephon Edward Watts Act, was passed following the police shooting of a 15-old African American male with autism while in his home. The stated intent of the legislation is "to provide emergency response, with or without medical transportation, to individuals requiring mental health or behavioral health services in a manner that is substantially equivalent to the response already provided to individuals who require emergency physical health care." The putative goal of the legislation is to, whenever capacity exists and it is legally and medically appropriate given the assessed risk level, allow mental health providers to serve as initial responders in situations where an individual presents with a behavioral health crisis. The entry points into this 'behavioral health first response' include 911 and 988, the new behavioral health crisis number scheduled to launch nationally on July 16, 2022. The behavioral health responders for these crises will be the 82 Mobile Crisis Response teams (MCR) housed within community-based behavioral health providers across the state.

CESSA created the Statewide Advisory Committee (SAC) "to review and make recommendations for aspects of coordinating 911, and the 988 MCR system most appropriately addressed on a state level." Other responsibilities are detailed in the following section. Regional Advisory Committees, utilizing the pre-existing Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Medical Directors Committee structures under the Department of Public Health's eleven (11) EMS regions, will be charged with the development of regional best practices and approval of any new protocols that shall be informed by the realities of the local jurisdiction. A deadline for completion of all work was set for January 1, 2023 and requires the following conditions be met:

  1. the Statewide Committee has negotiated useful protocol and 911 operator script adjustments with contracted services providing these tools to the 911 PSAPS operating in Illinois;
  2. the appropriate Regional Advisory Committee has completed the design of the specific 911 PSAP's process for coordinating activities with the mobile mental and behavioral health services; and
  3. the mobile and behavioral health services are available in their jurisdiction.


  1. Dispatch Protocols
    1. Recommendations for guidelines for all dispatch protocols statewide to include a risk stratification methodology and matrix that defines the type of dispatch (Law enforcement, Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Mobile Crisis Response Team (MCR) appropriate for various scenarios
    2. Negotiated protocol and operator script adjustments by the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) contracted vendors providing these tools to individual PSAPs and those by individual PSAPS that independently create scripts and protocols
    3. Recommendations for guidelines for all dispatch protocols when a call reportedly involves a person presenting with symptoms associated with mental illness allegedly involved in non-violent misdemeanor offenses (Guidelines for diversion from criminal justice systems)
  2. Standards
    1. Recommendations for how to determine standard response times by MCR as guidance for regions/ subregions, rural areas, or metropolitan areas
  3. Consistency in Standards and Protocols
    1. Identification and recommendations for elements of relevant standards and protocols that should be consistently applied statewide and adopted by all 911 PSAPs, EMS systems, law enforcement agencies, 988 regional coverage areas, and DMH providers, and those to be subject to local modification
  4. Training and Education
    1. Recommendations for training and educational requirements for Behavioral Health (BH) staff responding to behavioral health crises
    2. Recommendations for training and educational requirements for 911 Telecommunicators as approved by the local EMS System Medical Director and IDPH
    3. Recommendations for training and educational requirements for 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline Call staff
  5. Staffing Credentials
    1. Recommendations for required credentials for all staff serving as BH MCR Team responder
  6. Data Reporting
    1. Recommendations for a data collection system including indicators measuring the coordination of 911 and 988 for ongoing review and improvement
    2. Recommendations for data collection sources, formats, and cadence
  7. Boards and Commissions
    1. Identification and collaboration with all external agencies, boards, or commissions overseeing and regulating the professions of law enforcement, firefighters, emergency medical service professions, and any other disciplines impacted by this legislation to assure changes in protocols and standards are moved through all appropriate regulating bodies
  8. Subcommittees
    1. Appointments of members to the four standing Technical Subcommittees for focused attention in specific areas and establishment of any new Technical Subcommittees as deemed necessary
    2. SAC approval of all work products developed by the Technical Subcommittees
  9. Subregions
    1. Each region will determine if creating subregions to conduct the work is appropriate for that jurisdiction and advise the SAC of the decision to create any subregions


The Secretary of the Department of Human Services is responsible for making the following appointments to serve on the Statewide Advisory Committee:

  • The Secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) (Non-voting Chair)
  • Statewide 911 Administrator, ex officio (Co-Chair)
  • One representative from the Illinois Department of Public Health (Co-Chair)
  • One representative from the Division of Mental Health (DMH)
  • One representative designated by the Illinois Chapter of the National Emergency Number Association (NENA):
  • One representative designated by the Illinois Chapter of the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO);
  • One representative of a statewide organization of EMS responders
  • One representative of a statewide organization of fire chiefs
  • Two representatives of statewide organizations of law enforcement
  • Two representatives of mental health, behavioral health, or substance use disorder providers
  • Four representatives of advocacy organizations either led by or consisting primarily of individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities, individuals with behavioral disabilities, or individuals with lived experience



The official term of the SAC expires January 1, 2023; however, the Secretary of the Department of Human Services may elect to extend the term to continue to monitor the progress of implementation. All appointed during the official term shall serve through January 1, 2023.


An opening on the SAC may occur due to a resignation. If there is an opening on the SAC, the co-chairs shall seek a replacement member to be appointed by the Secretary of the Department of Human Services prior to the next SAC meeting. Substitute members may serve at the discretion of the primary member of the organization, however the SAC must be advised prior to the meeting of attendance by a substitute. Only one person shall serve as a substitute for the appointed member.


The Chair and Co-Chairs will identify individuals and/or organizations that have specific expertise in critical and relevant areas that pertain directly to the implementation of this Act and request their participation as Expert Consulting Group (ECG) members. These individuals/organizations will be asked to offer their expertise and recommendations to the membership to advance the goals of the SAC. Expert Consulting Group members will be asked to participate in SAC meetings and relevant Subcommittee meetings to offer their expertise and provide or identify resources that may be useful in advancing the work. Expert Consulting Group Members include but are not limited to:

  • Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority
  • Administrative Office of Illinois Courts
  • Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board
  • Department of Human Services, Division of Substance Abuse Prevention & Recovery (SUPR)
  • Department of Human Services, Division of Developmental Disabilities
  • Department of Healthcare and Family Services
  • Illinois College of Emergency Physicians
  • Chicago Department of Public Health
  • Illinois Hospital Association
  • Illinois Association of Police Social Services


There are four standing Subcommittees that will direct their focus on specific implementation areas and goals. The Chair and Co-Chairs, in consultation with the SAC, will solicit participants for the Subcommittees and will ask members of the Expert Consulting Group to offer technical expertise as necessary. All Subcommittees may not commence work at the same time, as the work of some Subcommittees may be contingent upon completed deliverables from others. The Subcommittees' responsibilities are as follows:

  1. Elect a Chair and Co-Chair to conduct the meetings, including preparing agendas to guide the work of the Subcommittee.
  2. Identify and report to the SAC any resource needs including expert knowledge and key collaborations necessary for successfully conducting the work of the Subcommittee
  3. Develop all the work products germane to the topical area of Subcommittee
  4. Provide routine reports on the progress of the work of the Subcommittee at each Statewide Committee meeting
  5. Maintain official minutes of all proceedings

The four standing Subcommittees are as follows:

  • Subcommittee on Protocols and Standards
  • Subcommittee on Training and Education
  • Subcommittee on Technology, Systems Integration and Data Management
  • Subcommittee on Communication, Information Sharing and Public Messaging

The Subcommittee shall meet as often as necessary and agreeable to the members to conduct its work. Each Subcommittee may establish as charter to guide the process of decision making, research and the process for making recommendations to the Committee. Each Subcommittee will receive staffing support from the state.



The SAC shall meet monthly through January 1, 2023, virtually and at a time determined by the Chair and Co-Chairs. All members are expected to be prompt and prepared to fully participate in the proceedings. DMH will staff and with consent, record all proceedings.


These meetings will be held in accordance with the Illinois Open Meetings Act (5 ILCS 129/1). Citizens are invited to provide public comments to the SAC as designated at the time noted on the agenda. SAC meetings are open to the public but are not meetings of the public. The purpose of the meetings is to conduct the business of the SAC and to provide the members an opportunity to discuss issues with each other and with those scheduled on the agenda. Time limits for public comment may be established to ensure equitable time for each speaker and to ensure scheduled SAC business can be completed in a reasonable time.


SAC members agree to strive toward consensus on issues that may require a decision. When there is a disagreement, a vote will be conducted, and simple majority will rule. When a substitute is attending on behalf of the appointed member, the substitute may vote by proxy. A quorum, defined as eight (8) members of the SAC, must be present for any votes necessary to conduct the business of the SAC.


The SAC has authority to gather information and make recommendations for changes in processes, protocols, and standards subject to final approval from the state authorities with governance over those processes. The SAC has authority to offer guidance on which elements of protocols and standards subject to change in accordance with the requirements of this legislation should be implemented statewide for consistency across local systems versus which elements should be locally determined.